The fund has paid out hundreds of millions in early super, but warned that the “heightened risk of fraud” was slowing them down.
Rest has paid 100,385 members a total of $693.4 million – an average of $90 million per day. The super fund expects to pay out further 15,184 applications to the tune of $104 million, with the “vast majority” expected to be paid out within the five-day period stipulated by the regulators.
“When you consider that we, and our administrator AAS, have had around four weeks to boost our capacity so we can handle an increase from 100 to 65,000 applications per week, I’m pleased we’ve been able to average 12,000 payments per business day,” said CEO Vicki Doyle.
But 4,440 applications – about 3 per cent – have been flagged for extra verification that Rest has in place to prevent fraud and money laundering. Those applications will extend beyond the five-day period – something Ms Doyle understands will be “frustrating” for members.
“Many of these members are in a desperate situation, and we are determined to make sure these applications are finalised as quickly as possible,” Ms Doyle said. “We have a dedicated team reviewing these applications everyday and we are always looking for ways we can speed up our processes. However, Rest has a clear obligation to our members to ensure all these payments are legitimate.
“We take our responsibilities to protect our members from fraud and money laundering very seriously.”
On 7 May, it was revealed that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were investigating an incident in which up to 150 super fund members may have been defrauded.
“We are working with the ATO and the relevant super funds in relation to establishing, first of all, up to 150 possible victims," AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw told the committee. “We are going to resolve [the payments] to see if it has legitimately gone to that client or not, but it could be up to 150 who have had $10,000 defrauded from their super fund”.
Ms Doyle said that Rest had already identified and stopped a number of fraudulent applications
“When you have 650 times more requests, you have a heightened risk of fraud,” Ms Doyle said.
“We must be vigilant to this. Superannuation funds are targeted by criminal organisations and individuals looking to make fraudulent withdrawal attempts. Ultimately, our members will bear the cost of successful fraud attempts, so it’s critical we apply an appropriate level of security checks to transactions.”
Rest would typically receive about 100 applications per week for early release of super under financial hardship and compassionate grounds provisions. In the first week of the early release scheme, it received around 65,000 applications. Despite that, Rest is “comfortably placed” to meet payment requests and the total number of applications received from the ATO is below its forecasts.
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